Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Latest News

March 13, 2013

Grackles enjoying life in Corsicana

Corsicana — The cackle of grackles congregating at the intersection of Interstate 45 and U.S. 287 may look like something out of “The Birds,” but they’re really just traveling through. Grackles are migratory birds and while they love wide open spaces with plenty of electricity wires, they aren’t here forever. It just looks like that because when one group leaves, another cackle takes its place, according to biologist David Sierra, with the Texas Parks and Wildlife.

“When you put up open parking lots and clear out areas, that gives them a new habitat to inhabit,” Sierra said. “Corsicana is on the range of much more open land and grackles prefer open land and open fields. They’re not a woodland bird.”

The enormous flocks of birds used to hang out downtown, but repeated firings with the city’s noise cannon and other efforts made it less attractive for the birds.

Because they are considered migratory birds, it’s illegal to kill them, but cities and counties can get special permits from the federal government for killing grackles. A better idea is just to shoo them away, Sierra said.

He admitted it’s not quite that simple.

“They’re not communal nesters. It’s the roost that most people see with grackles,” Sierra said. “The roost can be moved, but it takes a little work and effort. You can’t just have two or three people out there. You have to have a lot of people out there when they’re trying to move the roost and keep them moving.”

The main method is to start just before dusk with a lot of noisemakers and even firehoses to prevent the birds from landing, he said.

“After about three nights of that they’ll go elsewhere,” he said.

The City of Corsicana struggled with grackles year after year in downtown Corsicana using sound cannons and other non-lethal means. Until the last couple of years, that is, when the birds evidently just moved.

“They don’t like the mosquito spray, and while we were spraying for mosquitoes last year they exited,” said City Manager Connie Standridge. “They did not like the mosquito spray.”

Assistant Manager at Mickey’s Exxon Annie Clemons said the biggest problem with the thousands of birds is their waste, although their sheer numbers can be a little intimidating.

“They use the bathroom all over the place,” she said. “For as long as I can remember they’ve been here at this corner. They’re always here, I don’t know why. They kind of gross me out.”

They may seem like they’re constant, but the birds are actually different cackles of grackles, Sierra said.

“What you’re seeing is different groups,” Sierra said. “They don’t all migrate at once. No one gives them a memo saying ‘it’s time to go.’ It may seem like they’re there year-round, but it’s usually different groups of these birds.”

The appeal of Navarro County, and the slightly urban setting of Corsicana is pretty basic — wide open spaces, fairly quiet setting, nice places to sit and chat, and snacks. The location of fast food restaurants and convenience stores makes it easy to nab a tater tot or other easy meal.

“They congregate in cities because there’s a lot of food and places for them to roost in the evenings,” said Jay Whiteside, also a biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife. “They’re well adjusted to urban life. They’re omnivores. They have a varied diet of seeds and insects, and part of the reason they adapt so well to urban life is because there’s basically a smorgasbord of food for them.”

Getting them to move on involves getting the public to not throw food out their car windows, having the cooperation of local businesses in keeping their parking lots spotless, and then there’s the three-day noise fest.

“They’ll leave out in the fall,” Sierra predicted. “It’s one of those things. How long do you want to put up with it?”


Janet Jacobs may be reached by email at Want to “Soundoff” on this story? Email:


Text Only
Latest News
  • 7-23-14 pianos main.jpg Public pianos invite players

    Corsicana has always been a musical town, with emphasis on country and western, rock and roll, bluegrass and Gospel, but now the parks and recreation department is moving towards bringing music to the masses in a different way. They’re going to put pianos downtown, on the sidewalks for anyone to play at random.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Navarro County 4-H Club holds event

    Texas A&M AgriLife Extention will hold Summer Exploration Days at the Navarro County Expo on Tuesday, July 29 from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.

    July 22, 2014

  • New date for IPL Job Fair announced

    Tarrant Regional Water District IPL (integrated pipe line) Project will hold a Job Fair from 4 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 at The Cook Center.

    July 22, 2014

  • Making voting easier

    A new county-wide voting system would let voters cast a ballot at any polling place on election day, eliminating the need to drive to a specific precinct to vote.

    July 22, 2014

  • Aaron Tidwell Tidwell tapped for top Mildred High post

    A baseball coach at heart, about a year ago Aaron Tidwell began to seriously focus on education administration. He just didn’t think an opportunity would present itself so soon. Mildred Independent School District board members approved the 31-year-old Corsicana native as the high school’s new principal Monday night.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • OCIW treasure Mantle worthy: Oil City presented with Texas Treasure Business Award

    Maybe Oil City Iron Works is worth double the treasure. After all, the local icon honored Monday with a state award for employers in business for 50 years has actually been around for 128.

    July 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • 7-22-14 meth raid.jpg Five arrested in meth raid

    The Corsicana Police Department executed a raid on an alleged meth house Saturday afternoon, and it was done in about 45 minutes, all but the paperwork.
    “That part is on-going, reports and follow-up,” said Police Chief Randy Bratton on Monday.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Perry orders 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to border

    AUSTIN — Gov. Rick Perry says he's deploying as many as 1,000 National Guard troops to the Texas-Mexico border after growing tied of "lip service" from the federal government.

    July 21, 2014

  • 7-19-14 plane leaving.jpg F-4 jet leaving Navarro College for new Florida home

    It stood for years in front of the Cook Center at Navarro College. Now, like so many “retirees,” it’s Florida bound.
    It took several days to partially dismantle the F-4 Phantom fighter jet enough to travel, but it was done this week.

    July 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • Mildred to consider Tidwell as principal

    The Mildred Independent School District Board of Trustees will consider appointing current baseball coach Aaron Tidwell as the new Mildred High School principal when the group meets in regular session Monday.

    July 20, 2014

AP Video
Broncos Owner Steps Down Due to Alzheimer's US, UN Push Shuttle Diplomacy in Mideast Trump: DC Hotel Will Be Among World's Best Plane Crashes in Taiwan, Dozens Feared Dead Republicans Hold a Hearing on IRS Lost Emails Raw: Mourners Gather As MH17 Bodies Transported Robot Parking Valet Creates Stress-free Travel Raw: MH17 Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Disabled Veterans Memorial Nearing Completion Last Mass Lynching in U.S. Remains Unsolved Home-sharing Programs Help Seniors Ex-NYC Mayor: US Should Allow Flights to Israel Clinton: "AIDS-Free Generation Within Our Reach" Judge Ponders Overturning Colo. Gay Marriage Ban Airlines Halt Travel to Israel Amid Violence Police Probing Brooklyn Bridge Flag Switch
Twitter Updates